After being diagnosed with pneumonia a few days before the end of a five-week vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Jerome Lee Costa of North Truro died unexpectedly on March 4, 2023. He was 81.
A proud Provincetown native, Jerry was the son of the late Antone “Tony Cheroot” Costa and Lillian (Weed) Costa. He was born on Aug. 15, 1941, delivered by Dr. Daniel Hiebert at home in what is now the Salt House Inn on Conwell Street. He never missed a day of school.
He loved diving for coins off MacMillan Pier with his friends, and he was the first person from the U.S. to board the Mayflower II when it landed in Provincetown in June 1957, having departed from Devon, England on April 20. Jerry was asked to jump on board to tie her up.
He graduated in 1960 from Provincetown High School, where he played on the basketball and baseball teams. His ambition was to play for the New York Yankees.
Jerry would accept any job available to support his family. He worked at Flyer’s and Taves boatyards before taking up commercial scalloping and ground fishing on the first Little Infant in the 1960s. He later worked on the Inca sports fishing boat with his brother Wayne and on the Tradewinds 4 and Ranger III party boats, among others.
He painted many of the masts and designs of the Provincetown fishing fleet, as well as the Playboy bunnies on the Patricia Marie; he helped build the Columbia out of Rock Harbor for his Costa cousins.
In 1970, he became the bartender at the new Holiday Inn in Provincetown, where he was the food and beverage manager for 39 years. Working at the Whaler Lounge, he created many signature drinks like the Almond Joy and the Whale’s Tail. Later, he showed free movies that became popular with townies, for whom he made barrels of free popcorn. Jerry also worked outside with his wife, Tina, during the summer at the pool bar, where they made many lifelong friendships.
Jerry’s work ethic was admired by everyone who knew him. He never called in sick and once used crutches to tend bar with a badly injured foot.
Jerry loved working with children, was an avid collector of sports memorabilia, and started a baseball card after-school program for boys at the Truro Central School. In 2005, he began coaching softball at the Provincetown elementary school. From 2008 to 2011, he and his best friend Mike Manley coached softball at Provincetown High. He had three Silva granddaughters on the team; the whole team called him “Grampa.”
After the high school closed, he and Manley coached at Nauset Regional for two years, where, again, everyone called him Grampa. Later they coached varsity softball at St. John Paul II High School in Hyannis, where his team won its first Cape and Islands championship and called him Coach Grampa.
Jerry bought gloves, bats, and treats for his players and continued to correspond with many of those he mentored through social media and email.
Jerry took great pleasure in combing the beaches of Truro and Wellfleet for jewelry, keys, coins, and mobile phones. He donated artifacts to the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, and every summer hung “Lose Something? Call Jerry!” signs with his contact information at Truro beaches. If a person who lost an item could remember where they were sitting, Jerry could usually find it quickly. If not, he would keep searching day after day, often until dark.
In 2016, Jerry found a silver bracelet engraved with Albert Pitt 24 JAN 66 DVN. After some research and calls to veterans’ organizations, he learned it was a remembrance for Capt. Albert Pitt, a 32-year-old Marine Corps pilot who went missing on Jan. 24, 1966 in South Vietnam. Jerry found the person who had lost the bracelet, Capt. Pitt’s nephew in Oregon.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 32 years, Christina Costa; his children, Christine Roderick and husband Ryan of Cherryfield, Maine, Karen Silva and husband Paul of Provincetown, James Costa and wife Jennifer of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Michael Costa of Provincetown; eight grandchildren: Justine, Kyle, Tyler, Lili, Emma, Natalie, Kaitlyn, and Patrick; and six great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sisters, Lisa Zawaduk and husband Russell and Anika Costa; two sisters-in-law, Pauline Costa and Anne Tufts; and many nieces, nephews, and numerous Costa, Menangas, and Coehlo cousins in the U.S. and in the Algarve region of Portugal.
He was predeceased by his brother, Wayne “Duke” Costa, and by his first wife, Sheila Silva.
Family and friends are invited to a celebration of Jerry’s life on June 17 at 11 a.m. at the Provincetown United Methodist Church, 20 Shank Painter Road.
Donations in Jerry’s memory may be made to the Silva Ataxia Foundation, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 16 Huntington Ave., 3rd floor, Boston 02116 or online at silvaataxiafoundation.org/donate.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this obituary, published in print on March 30, misspelled the first name of Jerry Costa’s father, Antone (not “Antoine”), and misstated the date of the arrival of the Mayflower II in Provincetown. It was June 1957, not April.